Go See the Solar Decathlon!

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon – College Students Competing for a Clean Energy/Cool House Future

For the next two weekends, there are 14 creatively efficient small homes on display at the Great Park in Irvine, CA.  Sponsored by the DOE, the Solar Decathlon challenges teams of students to create sub-1000sf homes that:

  • Cost less than $250,000 to build
  • Have systems that heat, cool, run appliances, provide hot water and charge an electric car using only solar energy
  • Can be built on-site in Irvine in 9 days or less
  • Are livable and meet the needs of a typical family

These houses are cool – both in design and comfort.

Many of the houses are inspired by a college community’s circumstances.

  • The Crowder College and Drury University team from Missouri built a home that withstands tornado impact and wind forces and can be used as disaster site housing.
  • The Stevens Institute of Technology team from New Jersey built a coastal house that can be readied for a hurricane in less than 30 minutes.
  • The University of California, Davis team built a home designed to affordably meet the housing needs of migrant farm workers.
  • The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen team created an alley-style home that can increase urban density and address population growth issues.
  • The New York City College of Technology team created a stackable home with wall-mounted solar panels that can provide urban housing on New York’s typical 24’x50’ lots.

Some of the houses, like the one built by Clemson University, can be assembled by the weekend DIY warrior.  Their house is about 1,500 CNC cut pieces that are assembled like a puzzle, using stainless steel zip-ties and no power tools.

Some houses use very unique technology, like the Night Sky Cooling System in the UC Davis home that cools captured rainwater on the roof and pumps it though a radiant flooring system.  Others use more proven technologies in well-integrated systems.  All are inspiring and thoughtful.  Entrance to the Solar Decathlon is free.  Parking is $10.  More information can be found at www.SolarDecathlon.gov or http://www.facebook.com/DOESolarDecathlon.


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